From David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed:
The Church of England had taught that matrimony was a sacred union that must be solemnized by a priest. Anglicans also insisted that after the sacred knot was firmly tied, it could never be “put asunder” by mortal hands. Exceptions were allowed for monarchs and great lords, but for ordinary English men and women there was virtually no possibility of divorce in the seventeenth century.
The Puritans of New England rejected all of these Anglican ideas. They believed that marriage was not a religious ceremony but a civil contract. They required that this covenant must be “agreed” or “executed” (not “performed” or “solemnized”) before a magistrate, and not a minister. They also insisted that if the terms of the marriage covenant were broken, then the union could be ended by divorce. (77-78)